A-Z

Anna

Age at interview: 22
Age at diagnosis: 21
Brief Outline: Anna delivered her second child in hospital and was discharged home. She soon felt unwell and developed septicaemia very quickly. She was admitted to intensive care and had to have a hysterectomy.
Background: Anna lives with her partner and two sons. White British..

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Interviewed 14 months after event. Invasive Group A streptococcal infection.
 
Anna was pregnant with her second son, her first having been born early (at 33 weeks) when she was 19. The pregnancy went well and she went in to labour naturally. But as labour progressed they discovered that the baby was back to back and had to twist his shoulders to get him out. However, he was a good weight and Anna felt OK, so was discharged later the same afternoon. It was 21st December and she wanted to be at home with her family so close to Christmas. She went home in the afternoon, and found when she got home she wasn't feeling great - dizzy and in pain in her stomach. But she thought it was normal post-labour symptoms. She tried to rest and during the night was able to breastfeed her new baby. However, next morning she still felt very unwell. A midwife visited and said that if she did not improve in 24 hours then she should call again. However, within hours she felt she had difficulty breathing in addition to the pain in her stomach. Her partner called an ambulance, and a rapid response team was at the house within 2 minutes. 
 
On the afternoon of 22nd December she was rushed to hospital where doctors ran lots of tests. They identified the infection quickly and put her on two types of antibiotics to try and tackle the infection. She was admitted to intensive care (ICU). Doctors explained the situation, saying that they were hoping that the antibiotics would sort out the infection, but if they didn't, they would have to resort to "Plan B". Anna surprised the doctor by asking what that was, and he explained that it would have to be a hysterectomy. While shocked, Anna was very grateful to have been given that information. She felt that it gave her and her family a day or so to come to terms with what might have to happen. 
 
Unfortunately the antibiotics were not able to stop the infection, so a day later she was sent down to have a hysterectomy. She asked them to save her ovaries if possible (which they were able to do, but she later discovered they were no longer viable). She was unconscious in ICU from 24 Dec - 1st January. She has many memories of her time in ICU, in particular the terrible frightening nightmares she had while in the drug-induced coma. The surgeons had to operate twice, as some infection remained on one of the ovaries, but went through the same horizontal scar - she was very grateful that they only cut her once, and horizontally. She feels that she can hide this scar quite effectively, which has a positive effect on her body image, whereas if she had had a vertical scar, she would have felt much more "damaged".
 
Her baby was lucky not to have picked up the infection, and stayed at home being cared for by his father and Anna's mother-in-law.
 
Once she was out of danger, Anna was transferred to a general ward, where the care was not that great, and she asked to be discharged quickly. She left hospital on 12th January to get back to her baby and family. However, she was still very weak, needing a walking stick for many weeks and help doing the basic everyday functions of walking up stairs, getting in and out of the bath etc. Anna was offered follow up counselling through the hospital at 6 weeks, which she had, but found it was too soon, and not that helpful. She has seen ICU regularly for follow up, which has been helpful. However, as the year progressed she became more and more down about her experiences. Initially she was fighting the physical symptoms of having been so ill, and the shock of nearly dying. But as time has gone on, the disappointment at the hysterectomy and not being able to have another child (in particular a daughter) have grown. She has been depressed and has had dark thoughts. Before the one-year anniversary she sought help and has been having cognitive behavioural therapy CBT for several weeks, which has really helped her start to move on from the experience. She is also on anti-depressants and has been put on hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
 
At times she has felt very isolated, and as though the support was not there when she needed it, which was not only while she was still in hospital, but in the months afterwards when she was trying to come to terms with everything. She worries that her absence has had a negative effect on her children, although found her partner coped very well and was very strong for everyone.
 
 

Anna was told she was a walking time bomb. Doctors explained very well how serious her situation...

Anna was told she was a walking time bomb. Doctors explained very well how serious her situation...

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And then I didn’t have any more bleeding for another four weeks, so you sort of start thinking oh this is a bit of a, a bit melodramatic and a bit of a joke and I think, you know, when I got too complacent, then they began to sort of say, you know, you know, you mustn’t do this, you must do this. And I think the words that stuck in my husband’s mind is the consultant said, “You know, you’re a walking time bomb. And it’s a question of when, not if”, and he explained just how quickly things could happen, if I was to have a massive bleed. And told us that the other side really could be too far. I think the words he used were, “It would be curtains for your baby, and possibly for you.” And so that sort of went okay.

Is that what he explained that first day when he came to see you or was that later on?
 

That was later on. They did it very well. They explained the gravity of the situation but not in a way that would have complete…. I mean every time, it was almost like a drip feeding process. And I mean, it might not work for everyone, but it worked well for me, because it enabled me to process little things at a time, and you know, the paediatricians came and explained what would happen if the baby was born now, at that point. The anaesthetist came in and explained what he would do, and how the decision would be taken as to whether it would be general anaesthetic or whether it could be done by spinal block and you know, if the extent of my bleeding was massive, you know, whether I’d have to be heavily sedated and in Intensive Care for a number of days. And I remember they did explain from day one the possibility of a hysterectomy and all of that sort of thing. So… 

 

Anna had flu-like symptoms and abdominal pain soon after going home with her second baby. She...

Anna had flu-like symptoms and abdominal pain soon after going home with her second baby. She...

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So then that was on the 21st of December. Because I felt all right and I just wanted to go home. You know, it was near Christmas, I wanted to be home with my family and stuff. They checked me over, everything was fine. He was breastfeeding fab. He just did it, you know, it was really good. And so then I was allowed to take him home at 4 o’clock that afternoon.  
 
With my first pregnancy when my milk came through, my milk didn’t come through for a couple of days because obviously he was early and my body had to sort of kick into the fact that I’d actually had him. So when my milk actually come through with [older son], I felt like, like really ill. I felt like flu like symptoms. I felt dizzy. I didn’t really feel right. So then that evening, I thought I’d feel, after I’d had [younger son] and I was going to leave hospital, I felt dizzy and I felt, I didn’t feel right, but I just put it down to the fact that I’d had a big baby. Because he was, he was eight thirteen and a half and I’m not very big. So that was quite, hard. So you know, I thought my body had been through the mill, you know. So when I was on my way home I didn’t think anything of it. I just could explain everything that I was feeling.
 
So we went to my Mother-in-law’s, introduced you know, my oldest son to, to [younger son] and I just felt tired and just not, I just, I could explain it, I’d been awake all night, but I didn’t really want to, I just wanted to go to bed, and didn’t want to do anything. So when I came back here I just went straight to bed. And like I got visitors and stuff, but I couldn’t even get out of bed. I was like, “Oh just let them come upstairs, I don’t even care it’s a mess. Just do it.”
 
So that night when I wanted to breastfeed him, my partner would have to pick him up, put him on, while I had to have a pillow over my stomach and then when he was done put him back, because I just couldn’t do it, I was in so much pain. But I put it down to the fact that after birth, you know, like after pain sorry. After your second baby it’s supposed to be worse than your first anyway. So it was like I could explain all the pains and stuff I was getting. So… like 2 o’clock in the morning I got in the bath to try and ease the pain. It didn’t work, but I was, I kept on top of my pain relief as well. I was on like ibuprofen and paracetamol. I just kept on top of it, hoping that, you know, it would be all right. 
 
So by the time morning came, I thought, right get up, go downstairs, make yourself feel a bit better.  Got downstairs and oh I was just like dizzy, and I really didn’t, I just felt like really bad, and luckily my Mother-in-law was coming over. My boyfriend had to pick her up, and I said to him, “While you’re out, just get powdered milk.” It was literally at the point where if [younger son] had have cried, I couldn’t have done anything about it. I was in so much pain. But still at this point, still everyone was explaining it as after-pains. We’re all explaining it off, I was tired, it was a big baby. So many reasons why I’d feel like that.
 
While they were out, my midwife came. And you know, she was like, “Wow, you look rubbish.” I was like, they weren’t her words, but yes. And I was like, “Yes, I really feel it.” And I felt dizzy walking back to the sofa and that and she just basically said to me, “Look just write today off.” You know, “Go back to bed. Let everyone else take care of your baby and then tomorrow you should be feeling great. You should be feeling better.” And I was thinking, “oh thank God”.
 
An
 

Anna developed septicaemia (blood poisoning) very rapidly after birth. She was rushed to hospital...

Anna developed septicaemia (blood poisoning) very rapidly after birth. She was rushed to hospital...

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But like my mother-in-law ended up coming up as well, up the stairs to find out what was wrong. And she was like, “No I think we just need to ring somebody now, because this isn’t normal.” And my stomach was hurting and my chest was like, it was really tight. And they ended up calling the delivery, you know, the midwives, the ward at the hospital. But they said, “Do you think it’s serious enough to call an ambulance?” And I was like, “Yes.” At this point I was like I just need somebody to help me.
 
So the ambulance, so the rapid response team came out first, basically assessed everything, but when my boyfriend phoned for the ambulance they literally said to him, get any dogs or anything out of the way, any pets, anything out of way, make sure the runway is clear, and he didn’t even have time to put the dogs out in the back garden before they were here. And then, that was the rapid response team. 
 
And then two minutes after that the main ambulance came. Basically put stuff in me and put oxygen on, and then I ended up being taken to hospital.
 
It’s all very varied when I get to hospital. Like I can remember things being done, but I can’t remember the order they were done in. So I know as soon as I walked in it was literally like something out of casualty. There was nurses, doctors, everything. I was like this and they were just taking blood. Taking blood, and I had people testing everything. I was literally just covered in people. And I just laid there and let them do it. I was just thinking you know, I wasn’t really thinking anything. 
 
So then once they’d all finished I was, I was able to talk, you know, I wasn’t like, I was just disorientated and I was saying you know, “What do they think is wrong with me?” And at this point they thought it was a clot on my lung. So I was given morphine and they couldn’t decide between whether it was my chest or my tummy. They couldn’t decide what, you know, whether it was a clot on my lung or whether it was something not quite right with my stomach. 
 
So they were choosing between the gynae team or the surgeons. I think it was at the time. So I ended up having a MRI, a CT scan, the one with the doughnut, like the big…

It was a CT scan?
 
Yes. CT scan of my whole body. Sort of to look at both and then I ended up having another one later on, um, just of my stomach. I had swabs done of you know, of up there. I had x-rays. I had ultra sound and none of them were really saying anything apart from the swab. I ended up being admitted that night into Intensive Care. So that was the 22nd I was in Intensive Care. And… I can’t remember exactly when, but I’m sure, it must have been the 23rd I was diagnosed because I remember them saying, “We’re going to try and fight this off. This is what you’ve got. We’re going to try and fight it off with two of the most powerful antibiotics we’ve got.” And if, you know, I remember them saying, “If that doesn’t work, we’ll have to go on Plan B.” And I just said, “Oh what’s Plan B?” And he looked at me like, “Why are you asking that?” Because most people, I got told by a nurse afterwards that most people don’t ask about Plan B, because it’s the “bad plan”, it’s not a plan you really want to know about. But for me, I wanted to know the worst scenarios so I could prepare myself. Because I’m sat in Intensive Care I think, you know, subconsciously, I knew it was serious but my brain never actually registered it was. Not at one point was I scared for my li
 

When Anna woke up in intensive care, her partner was delighted. She was concerned to know if...

When Anna woke up in intensive care, her partner was delighted. She was concerned to know if...

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So after my hysterectomy, they did leave my ovaries in. But I was kept in this sleep because I had septicaemia as well. So by this stage, I was put on life support, because my body needed to fight off this infection. And breathing and stuff like that was kind of needing to take a back seat. So I was put on all sorts of bits and pieces. I had tubes coming out of everywhere. So I was in the coma from the 24th and then on the 31st, every day they were checking my infection markers, if things had gone up or down or whatever they do, and on the 31st the infection, every day they were the same, I wasn’t getting any better, I wasn’t getting worse, and my family were sort of told. “How is she?” “Well we can’t tell you. She’s not getting any better. But she’s not getting any worse. She’s just stable.”  
 
So anyway, so luckily they managed to go in the same scar. And then they on the 1st, the 1st of January I was woken up. I didn’t really know what was going on. I remember just, [partner] my partner was there, and he was just like, the look in his eye, I’ve never seen it before. I’ve never seen somebody so, just grateful. He was running around me, telling me the kids are okay. Do I need anything? And like when I say need anything, I’d, because I’d been in a sleep for so long I had so much fluid on my lung, I had to like cough it up. And he was just helping me, just being… And I was just sort of thinking what? What? Because I thought, when I woke up, the first question I asked was, did they take my ovaries? So I knew what had happened. But then I kind of thought I’d had MRSA and it was, I didn’t really understand what had happened. Like I couldn’t even tell the time, it was really strange.  
 
 

After being in intensive care with septicaemia (blood poisoning) for several days Anna felt that...

After being in intensive care with septicaemia (blood poisoning) for several days Anna felt that...

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And then I was moved, that day I was moved onto the normal ward, and, I’m not going to lie. It was hard. It was like my family’s fight was over, because I was awake. But my fight had only just begun because not only did I have a new born baby, a three year old at home, I also had the fact now that I can’t have any more children. Accepting that you know, I’m not invincible, I nearly died. Also the fact that I couldn’t even move, because my muscles had deteriorated completely. I couldn’t even press the buzzer to buzz a nurse, I was that weak. So it was like I had to start from the beginning. 
 
My body was swollen. I had gone up to like thirteen stone and I’m only sort of eight stone normally. So I put on all this weight, and my face was puffy, and I couldn’t do anything. So that was when it really started for me you know, and I was being fed by a tube and a lot of challenges in hospital. You know, there’s a lot of things that I couldn’t do for myself that they, the nurses had to do. And degrading, you know, when you’re ill you just kind of go, just please help me, you know. But as you get better you kind of feel like, I want to start doing something for myself, but I can’t. Like when you’re feeling better, but you can’t feel that you can do it, it becomes a bit more like, you feel a bit more embarrassed and stuff. 
 
 

Anna had septicaemia (blood poisoning) and was very weak when she came home. It was hard being...

Anna had septicaemia (blood poisoning) and was very weak when she came home. It was hard being...

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And that was a whole new challenge, because it was, it was relief to be around my children, but being around them and not being Mum, not really being Mum. That was hard, you know. The fact that everyone else was looking after him and that I wasn’t, because for me, it’s important to be Mum, it’s important to be that special person because Mum’s are special. No matter who they are, they’re special. And I wanted to be special. I was special to [older son], I wouldn’t, I was like there all the time doing everything for him. I was, you know, I wouldn’t say obsessed but I was really, I loved being a Mum and it was so hard not to be able to do that for [younger son]. And that sort of made me go up and down quite a lot. I found it sort of hard to bond, not that I hated, I never hated him, not once. People ask me, I had a lot of people saying, “Do you resent the baby?” No never. I’d do it all over again, if it meant I could have him, no questions asked. But it was the hard fact that I, mentally couldn’t do it. And physically couldn’t do it, and I was going through so much other stuff that… my whole body and brain couldn’t make sense of, how was I going to be there for somebody else when my body couldn’t even make sense of it myself. But as I got better, I did, I made, like made much more effort and things like that, because I wanted to be that Mum so bad. And I have. You know, we are there now, you know, and it did take a long time, and it does take time. And in this sort of situation they don’t, it doesn’t just happen, you know, and that’s something I found really hard, because I just wanted it to be done, over and done with now. 

 

Anna developed septicaemia (blood poisoning) after her second son was born. She was put on...

Anna developed septicaemia (blood poisoning) after her second son was born. She was put on...

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All I can remember them telling me is they were going to try and fight it with these antibiotics and then Plan B. I can remember him saying “if not Plan B”, and then I asked about Plan B and that was it. I didn’t really get given an awful lot of information. But I don’t, I think if I had I wouldn’t have remembered it anyway.
 
Did he tell you what Plan B was?
 
Yes, that’s when he said; well we’ll have to give you a hysterectomy. Because he looked at me a bit shocked and the nurse said to me, the nurse was there when he said that and she turned round and said, that not many people ask about Plan B, because people can’t handle it. So she said that’s why he looked at you quite surprised. But I don’t, I just wanted to know. I’m glad I did because I had a day and a night to think about it, prepare for it, tell my partner, rather than it being like a “hysterectomy, boom, bye”. You know, I had time to sort of say to him, you know, probably this is what is going to happen. And everyone thought I was being negative, I knew, I knew, you see it was, I knew it was bad because you don’t get admitted to Intensive Care for nothing, but I wasn’t frightened.
 
 

After being in intensive care with septicaemia (blood poisoning), Anna needed a zimmer frame and...

After being in intensive care with septicaemia (blood poisoning), Anna needed a zimmer frame and...

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So I was given crutches. I was on a zimmer frame to start off with, to keep my balance and… and then I had crutches to go home with. And that was a whole new challenge, because it was, it was relief to be around my children, but being around them and not being Mum, not really being Mum. That was hard, you know. The fact that everyone else was looking after him and that I wasn’t, because for me, it’s important to be Mum, it’s important to be that special person because Mum’s are special. No matter who they are, they’re special. And I wanted to be special. I was special to [son’s name] I wouldn’t, I was like there all the time doing everything for him. I was, you know, I wouldn’t say obsessed but I was really, I loved being a Mum and it was so hard not to be able to do that for [son’s name]. And that sort of made me go up and down quite a lot. I found it sort of hard to bond, not that I hated, I never hated him, not once. People ask me, I had a lot of people saying, “Do you resent the baby?” No never. I’d do it all over again, if it meant I could have him, no questions asked. But it was the hard fact that I, mentally couldn’t do it. And physically couldn’t do it, and I was going through so much other stuff that… my whole body and brain couldn’t make sense of, how was I going to be there for somebody else when my body couldn’t even make sense of it myself. But as I got better, I did, I made, like made much more effort and things like that, because I wanted to be that Mum so bad. And I have. You know, we are there now, you know, and it did take a long time, and it does take time. And in this sort of situation they don’t, it doesn’t just happen, you know, and that’s something I found really hard, because I just wanted it to be done, over and done with now. 

 

Anna was grateful that doctors were able to leave her with a horizontal scar that was easier to...

Anna was grateful that doctors were able to leave her with a horizontal scar that was easier to...

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They ended up having to operate again on the 31st not knowing what they’d find. I had a general surgeon and a gynae surgeon in there, because they were worried that it may have got to my other organs. So they… they went in and removed my left ovary and part of my right and basically gave me a bit of a clean in there to make sure there was no infection. No other infection present. And when they finished the operation and stuff, luckily they went in the same scar, you know, thankfully… Because that sounds really daft, but as a young girl, like for me, like I’ve got to live with this for the rest of my life anyway. So to have a scar that goes across my stomach and I can hide is nice for me rather than, you know, that sort of having a scar going up my stomach for me. It may sound shallow but it’s another thing I have to live with. And you know, it’s all hard to accept as it is, rather than having, hating your body.
 

 

Anna's friends and family rallied round while she was in intensive care, but she felt that once...

Anna's friends and family rallied round while she was in intensive care, but she felt that once...

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But it is hard you know, when I left hospital people, people just stopped bothering and… I felt I really struggled with friends. I really struggled with people that made false promises, and I’ve still got a lot of upset towards them people that were all round and all there, when I was in hospital. But as soon as I came out they didn’t care. That’s when I really needed my friends. That’s when I really needed people to be there for me. To basically say, you can lose your temper, yes, you can. You are allowed to feel like this. Not made to feel that I couldn’t talk to anybody and I couldn’t, [pause], I had to be positive because I didn’t really have much choice. Like I’d already made a decision that I wasn’t going to let it eat me up. But mentally it was, and it was so hard. It was so hard to get past it and there was no help.

 

Anna was told by doctors that the antibiotics had not controlled her septicaemia and she would...

Anna was told by doctors that the antibiotics had not controlled her septicaemia and she would...

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But they said Plan B would be a hysterectomy and yes that did hit me when they said it, but I just thought, right, I want to ring my partner now, tell him, you know, tell him the situation.  Just basically make sure everyone’s prepared because it’s not something that’s taken lightly. So I told him and he was really supportive about it  and he sort of told me to stop thinking about the negative side and you know, the antibiotics will probably work and you know, everyone was really positive about the antibiotics but I knew, I knew what was going to happen. I didn’t, I just I had a sense, I just knew when they said it that that was what was going to happen. 
 
24th of December, Christmas Eve, they came in and he told me that he was afraid the antibiotics hadn’t worked and they would have to operate. So I begged them to leave my ovaries in. I don’t know what made me think about my ovaries. It wasn’t to do with hormones why they normally would, it was probably just to do with the fact that you know, the eggs, the baby, you know, the fact that they may have taken something, they may have taken that away, but if I have my eggs, I may still have like a chance.
 
So they, yes, that’s what they said. But I can’t remember them telling me that they were going to me into like, I say like an induced coma, but apparently it’s like, sleep. They put you into like, they don’t call it a coma, because it, it wasn’t a coma but it was like a coma. A medically induced sleep kind of thing. And like [partner] told me that I was told, but at the time, now, I can’t remember being told. 
 
Yes. But it was when they actually said about having a hysterectomy, I was, within the hour I was in surgery. It was like boom gone. It wasn’t really much. There was no discussion about it.
 
Can you remember them telling you. How was that?
 
I can remember them yes. [Partner] was there. And my Dad was there. And the, they said, you know, “The antibiotics haven’t worked… unfortunately the antibiotics haven’t worked. We’re going to have to take you down and you’re going to have a hysterectomy.” And my Dad started to cry. And I just looked at him and said, “Go home. I can’t, I can’t deal with this right now.” So that was the last thing I said to my Dad. He did walk out, bless him. And I just basically told [partner] I loved him. Just literally. And then obviously they had to put this needle in, and [partner] left, because he couldn’t… He didn’t leave the hospital, but he left the room, and he said, you know, he wanted to give them space, but I don’t think anyone could watch that. You know, [small laugh]. But no, it was… 
 
So yes, I remember going down to surgery and being frightened, not frightened but frightened that I hadn’t told [partner] I loved him enough. I mean something inside me must have known, because I needed make sure that [partner] knew I loved him, and the boys knew I loved them. So something inside of me knew to make sure that I said it. Because I can remember looking back and, and [partner] being stood with the nurse, and then going in for the operation. Yes.
 
 

Anna described how her sex life has changed since her hysterectomy. In some ways it has changed...

Anna described how her sex life has changed since her hysterectomy. In some ways it has changed...

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And is your sex life very difficult?
 
It is and It isn’t. I mean I do need like lubricant now. But it’s so nice I’ve got a partner that understands. That’s what makes it all, all better, you know, because if you’ve got somebody with you that understands and it doesn’t make it into a massive deal it just becomes something that you do. It becomes another sort of act kind of thing, so it doesn’t make any difference, and like the feeling. I got told I might not be able to orgasm, because like the uterus contracts or something, but I’ve never had one that made my uterus contract. When I was pregnant yes, but not like before. So that was sort of something that took me a little while to do by myself. I didn’t want to do it with [partner] I wanted to do it by myself and luckily I did manage to, and I can orgasm and it’s different but it’s not better or worse. It’s just different and that is hard to explain. Like sometimes now I need to be more in the mood for it, so I was kind of, well before, before I had my operation I was quite highly sexed. I would have sex any time, there, just was really interested in sex. But now I’m sort of mellowed out a bit and it takes a bit of time for me to get warmed up and stuff, whereas at one time I could be really, really. But I don’t know why, it’s just sometimes I’m not and other times I can just want it all the time. And that’s hard because when I don’t feel like it, I just think well why? Because I used to. I used to want it all the time. But that is just like, I suppose that’s one of those things that when your hormones are gone, you know, you do just don’t want it sometimes. And that was hard to like accept as well. Because it’s such a change of personality, its, you know, my partner is used to me giving it, come on, let’s have sex, come on. Come on. And then all of a sudden I’m just like, oh I don’t really want it you know. But I can turn it down and it doesn’t bother me. But it’s healthier. It’s not, because it wasn’t like, it wasn’t an obsession before, but it was like, if he didn’t, it was well what’s wrong with me then? Whereas now I’m quite happy being like, “No, that’s fine, we can go to sleep. It doesn’t matter.” And it’s a healthier, more healthy I think then it was. So in a way it did change for the better but… I sometimes, like kind of if I don’t feel confident in my body though. Sometimes that does take its, take its toll. You know, the confidence issues and that does go up and down a lot. Sometimes I feel really confident. Other times, like, sometimes I feel so confident I’m just like, you know, happy to walk around in my underwear or whatever, but other times I just feel a bit like I don’t look great. I don’t feel, I mean he doesn’t care, but it’s how it affects you, you know, and I do have issues sometimes about womanly, how womanly I feel and things like that, because I’ve had two children now, you know, and my body’s not perfect in any way. But it’s just nice that I’ve got somebody that loves me for who I am. You know.
 
 

Anna was interviewed 14 months after her hysterectomy. She said that straight afterwards she was...

Anna was interviewed 14 months after her hysterectomy. She said that straight afterwards she was...

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Before the anniversary, that’s when I really panicked, because I just thought, well what am I going to do? I don’t know what I’m… It’s weird, it’s like I was in, in prison in my head, and I was happy every, like I was myself still, I wasn’t , it was like I put on a front every day, and I don’t think many people saw past it, but my boyfriend did. And I know he worried for me, and he would just say to me, “You know, we need to get over this.” But not because he was like, oh get over it. It was because he could see how much underneath everything it was sort of eating me up and that was really hard. So when yes, when it came before Christmas I went, because I’d been going to the doctors and I had counselling and stuff like that, but they gave me counselling straight after. And straight afterwards, you are in shock and I think it takes up to six months really for you to sink it because it’s a forever change and forever is a word until you actually live it, if that makes sense. You know, you can say, oh you know, forever, but you don’t realise it until seven, eight months down the line that you actually think oh wait, this is, this is something I’m going to have to face. 
 
So I went to the doctors and I just said, “I, I need some help.” Told them, because I would think things and I’d feel bad for thinking them… And I’d think bad things, and I could never be honest with people about what I was thinking… So I went to the doctors and just said, “This is what I’m thinking.” I wasn’t going to kill myself or anything like that, but it was more like, I’d never ever think about killing myself, but it was more like the case of I just wish it would stop, I just wish for one minute this could just stop. And it wasn’t like killing myself, it was just the feeling inside me. I just wanted it to just stop. I just didn’t want to be here. I wanted to be here, but I didn’t, just didn’t want to be this person, this, this cage that I was in, and so I went to the doctors and I told them everything and they were just like, we need to get you to see somebody and then I ended up being put through to therapy quite quick and then obviously therapy has been going on and the stuff that I’ve, I ended up having to go through it all again and process it all and it really helped. I didn’t think it was, but she says as well that its, because I can like rationalise my thoughts, like I know when I’m having, but I’ve always been able to do it, I don’t know whether that’s everybody or whether it’s just me, but I can, if I think something I can make sense of it, and I think well that’s, that not really true you know. So I can step back from what I’m feeling and, you know, assess the situation.
 
And I mean I am on antidepressants. But that’s not me saying that I’m weak either because I’m not. I just needed, I just needed some help and there’s nothing wrong with that. I won’t let anybody make me feel like it either. Because most people, not many people at all have to go through what I’ve been through. So I won’t, I don’t like people, that anyone ever has, but I wouldn’t let anyone judge me about that anyway.
 
 

Anna developed septicaemia (blood poisoning) at home shortly after giving birth to her second son...

Anna developed septicaemia (blood poisoning) at home shortly after giving birth to her second son...

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Yes, last year, was so much the process of it. The what had happened to me, things I’d gone through, you know, because it wasn’t even just like the operation, it was everything I went through in hospital, you know, intensive care, it’s not a nice place to be anyway, so … you know, I had to make jokes, because I had like a urine bag, I had a bag  in my bum, I had two drainages. I had all sorts, and you know, you’ve got relatives and stuff coming to see you, you kind of have to make jokes about it. Insider you’re embarrassed and it’s hard to do, you know, when you come out of hospital, I just like I just feel so embarrassed for myself and things like that but I didn’t have a choice, but I think that was hard, the helplessness, thinking about pain, because I can still remember the pain now, and like… remembering… I got told as well, that if I’d have been left an hour, an hour more upstairs, I’d be dead now. So, I don’t know, I think it was because the septicaemia had kicked in already. Yes, so that’s hard, because obviously then start to think, well what if I hadn’t have woken up? How would they know I was dead? How would they know how to help me? And the fact is I just would have died. Nobody would have known because my partner would have come up and just like, “Oh she’s sleeping, bless her.” Do you know, that’s scary. You know, you think I’d been glad that I woke up, you know, and the ambulance and the fact that you know, things torture me, like “Why when I was going in the ambulance, why didn’t I ask for [younger son] to come?” You know, and the fact that [younger son] was in serious danger himself, because I’d been breastfeeding, putting that bacteria into him. And so he had to get treated as well. And like, like now I just think, “Why, why didn’t I just scream and say, “Get my baby with me”?” What, you know, what was, you know, and I punish myself for that, but I wasn’t in any fit state to even know about what was going on. And the brain plays tricks on you I think, because you know, you know I think to myself, why wasn’t I terrified? When they told me I had to have an operation, why wasn’t I..? I had to have a needle put in my neck and I was awake, you know, the size of the needle, you know, it was a big needle. And I think now, I just, I think luckily I just let them do it. I think now if anybody came near me with a needle like that I would, I’d go mad. But I just let them do it, and like for me, it’s really weird thinking that it’s me that was there, because I just so wasn’t. I didn’t think I was going to die. And that was scary because I was so calm. How can you be so calm when you’re faced with death? How? I don’t understand it. Looking back now I think why wasn’t I panicking? Being taken to hospital, being taken in the ambulance. Why wasn’t I panicking? They were using all these big words, you know, that I vaguely knew because I’d done the course at college, so I vaguely knew what they meant. And I knew what they meant, like they weren’t good words. Like tachycardic and stuff like that. A raised heartbeat I think. No I had to have a scan on my heart. Well I had to have all sorts of stuff done. They put a catheter, catheter the wee one, put it in, as soon as I got into hospital, into accident and emergency. So it was like all these things. Why wasn’t I panicking? Why wasn’t I in bits? But I think, you just don’t think like that, your body just, just goes into like a survival mode or something I don’t know. But that, that worried me a lot, like why wasn’t, why wasn’t I scared? Being faced with that. I’m scared now. You know, I’m scared now for me back then. What? You can’t…I can’t make sense

 

Anna said that it was mentally very hard to get over her experience. The passing of the first...

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Anna said that it was mentally very hard to get over her experience. The passing of the first...

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It was sort of like I had to reason with myself, and it took, it took the first year. It really did and like once the first anniversary had gone it just feels like now I don’t. It feels like it just takes, it’s a year healing period, and that’s what I feel, that for the first year every month on the date [younger son] was born it would be [younger son]’s nine months, [younger son]’s, you know, [younger son]’s two months, [younger son]’s three months, [younger son]’s four months, oh it means the operation happened on this date. And on Christmas Eve, I was really, I got really upset, a couple of months before Christmas thinking that, how am I going to cope with, with the, you know, I’m just going to end up breaking. But I didn’t. I was really just. I just thought to myself, oh this time last year I was in so much pain, and rather than feeling down about it. I just felt happy because I wasn’t in pain any more. I was with my family for Christmas and it was just so nice. And we had a quiet Christmas together and although I can’t get that last year back, it’s just one of those things that happened and it’s not… The thing about it is you can’t change it. There isn’t really much point in torturing yourself. You know, last year I was happy to torture myself but you do just kind, you do, I mean what I’ve been told like I had to have therapy, and I’m still having therapy and stuff like that to help my brain process what happened. But I’m not ashamed to admit it because it’s hard, it’s hard to accept something like that. And, you know, I thought I was okay. Deep down I mean that I wasn’t and then it just got to a point where I just felt like I was going mad, and I didn’t, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I just, I needed, I need something, but I didn’t know what. But it was just because my brain couldn’t process, I couldn’t accept it. And I still struggle accepting stuff now. But if I wake up and I know I’m having a bad day, I’m having a bad day and I know I’m allowed to feel like that and I don’t punish myself for feeling like that. And I think that’s important. People shouldn’t, people shouldn’t feel bad, you know, because not many people go through things like this. So you, there is no book. There is no rule book, and people shouldn’t make people think like that. Because it’s not fair.

 

Anna was just 21 when she had a hysterectomy. She remembers lying in intensive care thinking that...

Anna was just 21 when she had a hysterectomy. She remembers lying in intensive care thinking that...

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He finally came at 10 o’clock in the morning and it was just like… that feeling I will never forget, of him, you could see how grateful he was. I mean in his eyes you could see how serious it was. How serious it had been for all of them. My Dad, everybody. You could see when they saw me, just how, you know, I sort of saw from them you know, and they told me that people even up in Cornwall had heard about my story. And that they were asking about me. How they were getting floods of phone calls, floods of text messages from people who didn’t even know me. People were talking about it in like garden centres, stuff like that. And people were like oh I know that girl. You know, and it was like a really big thing. And I just sort of made a joke about it. You know, I’m a celebrity and all this sort of stuff and I kept positive. Because when, when on the Intensive Care they give you like an hour for lunch, like when you have to be on your own, and I think that’s when they do like, when they sort of sort all the patients out. You know, when you’re in Intensive Care you tend to like have all sorts of tubes and stuff coming out of everywhere. So my partner had to go home and I remember thinking about, I’ve got a choice now. I can quite easily let this consume me or I can just be positive and go for it, and don’t, don’t let it eat me up. Because it will kill me off if I let it eat me up basically, because you can’t change it. So I decided there and then to be positive about it. But it doesn’t mean to say any of that was easy. But that was my decision.

 

It took Anna almost a year before she felt she needed to seek help after septicaemia (blood...

It took Anna almost a year before she felt she needed to seek help after septicaemia (blood...

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Before the anniversary, that’s when I really panicked, because I just thought, well what am I going to do. I don’t know what I’m… It’s weird, it’s like I was in, in prison in my head, and I was happy every, like I was myself still, I wasn’t , it was like I put on a front every day, and I don’t think many people saw past it, but my boyfriend did. And I know he worried for me, and he would just say to me, “You know, we need to get over this.” But not because he was like, oh get over it. It was because he could see how much underneath everything it was sort of eating me up and that was really hard. So when yes, when it came before Christmas I went, because I’d been going to the doctors and I had counselling and stuff like that, but they gave me counselling straight after. And straight afterwards, you are in shock and I think it takes up to six months really for you to sink it because it’s a forever change and forever is a word until you actually live it, if that makes sense. You know, you can say, oh you know, forever, but you don’t realise it until seven, eight months down the line that you actually think oh wait, this is, this is something I’m going to have to face. 
 
So I went to the doctors and I just said, “I, I need some help.” Told them, because I would think things and I’d feel bad for thinking them. And I’d think bad things, and I could never be honest with people about what I was thinking. So I went to the doctors and just said, “This is what I’m thinking.” I wasn’t going to kill myself or anything like that, but it was more like, I’d never ever think about killing myself, but it was more like the case of I just wish it would stop, I just wish for one minute this could just stop. And it wasn’t like killing myself, it was just the feeling inside me. I just wanted it to just stop. I just didn’t want to be here. I wanted to be here, but I didn’t, just didn’t want to be this person, this, this cage that I was in, and so I went to the doctors and I told them everything and they were just like, we need to get you to see somebody and then I ended up being put through to therapy quite quick and then obviously therapy has been going on and the stuff that I’ve, I ended up having to go through it all again and process it all and it really helped. I didn’t think it was, but she says as well that its, because I can like rationalise my thoughts, like I know when I’m having, but I’ve always been able to do it, I don’t know whether that’s everybody or whether it’s just me, but I can, if I think something I can make sense of it, and I think well that’s, that not really true you know. So I can step back from what I’m feeling and, you know, assess the situation.
 
And I mean I am on antidepressants. But that’s not me saying that I’m weak either because I’m not. I just needed, I just needed some help and there’s nothing wrong with that. I won’t let anybody make me feel like it either. Because most people, not many people at all have to go through what I’ve been through. So I won’t, I don’t like people, that anyone ever has, but I wouldn’t let anyone judge me about that anyway.
 
 

About a year after her septicaemia and hysterectomy, Anna started counselling. She explained how...

About a year after her septicaemia and hysterectomy, Anna started counselling. She explained how...

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She explained to me about how the brain works. If you asked me to do it, I don’t think I’d be able to, but it’s basically just like how the front of your brain keeps the bad memories and that’s the one that keeps playing over and it’s trying to process it into the back part which is the memory. Like it’s really… I can’t, when she explains it to you, its yes, oh okay. But I’m not. I don’t know about it because I understand but the memories play over and over because they’re not being processed, they’re not being stored into like the library. So they play over and over and over again, and what you really need to do is just keep going over the situation with somebody, talking it through, talking how you feel, talking about it, because every time you talk about it, and every time you do something, you know, it helps it process it. Because when you’re thinking about it, you’re not processing it, because you’re just going round and round and round thinking about all sorts of different stuff. When you talk about it just processes it, like today me talking about it today will help me again, because I’m processing it. It will just go back into the bad memory folder and it doesn’t hurt when I’m talking about it. Of course it hurts but doesn’t bring back those nightmarish feelings and the trapped feeling. It’s just like I say a bad thing that happened. 
 
So the therapy sort of helped me there. And I’m still undergoing it, because I’ve obviously got. I still have issues and I don’t think that’ll change over the night. The acceptance of not having a little girl is hard. Now I wouldn’t lie to about that because it is. But it doesn’t rule my life. I’m at the stage where I’m grateful for everything I’ve got. I’m content with everything I’ve got. I don’t, although I wanted a little girl, and well you know, I wanted more children I’ve accepted it and its not, it’s just not as hard as it was. It’s just helped me. I mean I have to say. Well more recently I haven’t had it, because I ended up back in hospital for another reason, but yes, she was really understanding and I wasn’t judged and that was refreshing to be able to just say, “This is how I feel.” And I do not feel like I’m going crazy, to be told, “yes, that’s normal”, you know, “you are allowed to feel like that”, and to be told that, when you’re, when you’re in your own mind and you’re thinking things, and even you think “why am I thinking like this?” You can’t make any sense of it yourself. And then you tell somebody and then you go, “Does that make sense?” And they go, “Yes. Yes, it does and its normal, you know, you’re allowed to feel like that and it just makes you think, oh I’m not crazy, I’m not, I’m normal, you know, it’s a normal reaction and I think it makes you feel better for somebody to say, you know, because there’s no rulebooks, and it’s so hard. It, you do, you can definitely get through it.
 
But what is it that you’re finding hard, hardest to process? Is it not being able to have another child?
 
Hm.
 
Or is it the actual experience, the kind of near death experience?
 
Not being able to have children now.
 
Now?
 
And do you have any sense of how much longer you’re going to have therapy or is that …?
 
It’s a bit sort of ongoing. I mean she’s it’s just the acceptance no
 

Anna said that once she left hospital, her friends stopped bothering, and she really struggled.

Anna said that once she left hospital, her friends stopped bothering, and she really struggled.

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But it is hard, you know when I left hospital people, people just stopped bothering and… I felt I really struggled with friends. I really struggled with people that made false promises, and I’ve still got a lot of upset towards them people that were all round and all there, when I was in hospital. But as soon as I came out they didn’t care. That’s when I really needed my friends. That’s when I really needed people to be there for me. To basically say, you can lose your temper, yes, you can. You are allowed to feel like this. Not made to feel that I couldn’t talk to anybody and I couldn’t… I had to be positive because I didn’t really have much choice. Like I’d already made a decision that I wasn’t going to let it eat me up. But mentally it was, and it was so hard. It was so hard to get past it and there was no help.

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